Halle died.

The ring on her tags wore through and her name and her rabies vaccination fell into his hand as he tried to leash her. He held it out to me with a look on his face as if she had just died. I didn’t acknowledge the look on his face and shoved the pieces in my pocket and we left for our walk to the park. A week later she was dead.

The last three years have been a series of obstacles of pain. “Think that hurt..well try this one on for size. Oh..you can fit into that..well how about this one?” Over and over with increasing sized challenges that I huff and puff and cry and scramble over huge wooden walls laced with razor blades with all my strength like some sort of fucked up emotional muddy endurance race all the 40 something dads seem to be training for now a days.

So much.

It all hurts so much. I feel sometimes like I can’t even handle taking another breath. My head swims and my heart feels like a big lead brick that ever so slightly beats, just enough to keep the blood moving around this body just enough to manufacture tears that have consistently spill out of me at all times of day and night.

The last 3 years I’ve wanted to run away, to pack my dogs and my purse and leave everything else. Never actually filling the tank to do it, because I know I’d still have to take myself and all those hurts and pains and self doubt and anger and frustration and rage and jealousy and incredible self deprecation with me.

Booze doesn’t help. Exercise doesn’t help. Meditation sort of helps. But discipline to do that isn’t all that easy to summon at times. Friends sort of help. Family mostly doesn’t help. My dogs. They help. They are the only thing that helps and now one of them is gone.

I’m so sorry my beautiful barking beast of a Halle. I held your face as you cried, looking to me to make the pain within you stop. I’m so sorry if it was my fault. Every day I think it must have been. The food I fed you. Maybe it was the cookie. But goddamn it for moving that mattress by myself into the garage and catching the corner of it on the handle bars of my motorcycle and watching it fall slowly onto you. Trapping you under the handlebars. You yelped and I jumped over it and pushed it off of you. I’m so sorry. I’m sorry I didn’t shut the windows low enough so you couldn’t fit out of them and you were able to jump out the 2nd floor window onto the asphalt below. I’m sorry I didn’t put your thundershirt on that day. I’m sorry for all the times I left you home alone when there was a storm on the horizon. 15 years of mistakes suddenly fit into one circular thought. I know you were old. But I thought we had more time. Just an hour before this most awful moment you had demanded your 10pm walk to the park to check on your bushes and trees, even after running 5 miles the day before, bossily leading the pack through the mountains.

I held your face and tried to tell you how much I loved you and would miss you and how important you have always been to me. I felt the eyes of the doctors urging me to hurry up and make the decision to put you to sleep forever. I didn’t want to let you go. I wanted to hear your voice inside my head I wanted to feel your warm face and your soft neck and silky ears every morning for the rest of my life.

As you slide out of my life into your next something, hopefully something, every tear for you and for me and for my broken relationships and my lack of children and my painful single existence as a business owner with no idea what I’m doing and no partner came crashing out of me. Every time I was betrayed and hurt by those that I loved dearly and were betraying me in that very moment even came ripping out of the corners inside myself I shove them into and spilled over into the now. You kept purpose, and love and joy and routine, and fucking feisty determination to live life to hardest and best you could, in my life. You kept things balanced. At least enough to keep me from folding the road map of life up and burning it. You. You brown sausage monkey dog. You were my child and my parent.

Thank god for Jack. He slept in your spot on the couch until I took your blankets away. The light is spilling across his face right now as he lies on his bed listening to me type. Worried. He doesn’t like it when I cry either. Admittedly he handles it better than you did. He licked my tears from my face as we laid in bed for 2 days straight only leaving to cremate you, then pick up your ashes. The light across his face just reminds me of the way you would stand in the light and let it cover your body in warmth. You were always cold. Just like me. Maybe the only thing we had in common.

The house is so silent now. No morning announcement to the cat in the yard below that you saw him, fucker. And no yelling at Cinder from the window “you are such a jerk to me and I see you down there and you can’t get me from here jerk pants” And no padding up and down the hallway. And no yelling from the back porch that “All is well. It’s a good day to be alive everyone. Be thankful.” manta in the morning. Your breath, your groans, your snoring and your sighs are all missed so much. The sound of you getting off the couch, the dog door opening and closing. The sound of your breath when you stared at me from the side of the bed waiting for me to open my eyes.

I miss all that.

February 7, 2016

Like what you read? Give Maura Gramzinski a round of applause.

From a quick cheer to a standing ovation, clap to show how much you enjoyed this story.